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Deterioration of the Great Sphinx: an assessment of the literature

  • Charles Selwitz (a1)

The well-being of the Sphinx is a concern of all peoples of the world. While deterioration of this venerable monument has occurred over most of its history when it was not covered, 20thcentury environmental factors appear to be hastening these changes. FIGIRE 1 shoivs the Sphinx as it was in 1850. This is the first knoivn photograph and it was taken by Masinie Du Camp. FIGURE2 was taken in November 1989 and shows modern efforts to protect the Sphinx against deterioration by cladding the paws and sides with masonry. Alteration is most apparent along the sides of the body where the sloughingoff of surface chips is a common phenomenon. By one estimate, loss of stone is occurring at the rate of about 30 cm a century.

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The Sphinx, most celebrated of Egyptian statues, also has its special standing in the world of monument preservation, offering a technical challenge as intractable as any. A review of literature about the mechanisms of deterioration brings together our accumulated knowledge about how the creature is being lost. It is not a lot. What more is needed? And what might be done to save the structure?

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
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